New Trouble for Fukushima Reactor

Officials detect radioactive xenon, but reactor is stable
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2011 12:04 PM CDT
New Trouble for Fukushima Reactor
This Sept. 29, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the No. 2 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

A potential new setback for Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant: Utility officials have detected radioactive xenon particles inside the No. 2 reactor, suggesting unexpected nuclear fission may have taken place. Boric acid, which can counteract nuclear fission, was injected as a precaution, but Tokyo Electric Power says that there has been no increase in temperature or pressure, and that the discovery will not affect efforts to keep the reactor safe.

"We have confirmed that the reactor is stable and we don't believe this will have any impact on our future work," said a TEPCO spokesman. Officials say the levels detected were so low that they will check again to make sure the measurement was not in error. They are also looking into what caused the gas, the AP reports. Meanwhile, a reactor in southern Japan that had been shut down for a month was brought back online yesterday. (Click to read about a lawmaker who accepted a dare to drink the local water from Fukushima.)

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